Coca-Cola to sponsor 37th America’s Cup

Plastic bottle amongst driftwood on a beach

Coca-Cola has become the Global Soft Drinks Partner of the 37th edition of the America’s Cup.

The beverage giant, named by Surfers Against Sewage as the UK’s top plastic polluter for four years in a row, says the agreement is said to consolidate its commitment to sport and will enable it ‘to carry out initiatives related to sustainability, such as cleaning beaches or promoting returnable glass.’

During regatta months, Coca-Cola says it will promote the use of returnable glass as a more sustainable and reusable container. In addition, it will also promote beach cleaning actions through its ‘Mares Circulares’ program, which began in 2018 and has already managed to recover more than 1,800 tons of waste in Spain.

In 2019, Coca-Cola admitted it produces 3m tonnes of plastic packaging a year, however, earlier in 2023 it announced it’s aiming for 100 per cent recyclable packaging and 50 per cent recycled content in plastic bottles by 2025.

The agreement also consolidates and reaffirms Coca-Cola’s relationship with Barcelona, a key city for the group at an international level, which has one of the largest production plants in Europe (located in Martorelles) and which saw the birth of the first Coca-Cola bottle in Spain in 1953, from the factory located on Almogàvers Street. It was in 1993/4 that Coca-Cola introduced its plastic 20-ounce bottle which largely ended its previous iteration of glass, and thus contributed to the 30-year tsunami of plastic waste.

“Year after year, our Citizen Science Brand Audit reveals the same huge companies are responsible for the packaging pollution choking our environment,” Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, said in 2022. “Despite public sustainability commitments, these dirty brands are failing to take meaningful action to stop this harm. We cannot stand for this blatant greenwashing any longer. Systemic change is urgently needed to end the pollution swamping the land and ocean. Businesses need to take responsibility for their polluting products.”

The signing of this latest agreement brought together Grant Dalton, CEO of the 37th America’s Cup, and Francesc Cosano, general manager of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Iberia. When signing the agreement, both executives highlighted the economic and social impact that the competition will have on the city, the region, and the country, with the involvement of citizens and local entities, and the importance of sustainability in the management of an event of this magnitude.

“This agreement allows us to reinforce our commitment with Barcelona, supporting the local economy and making a positive impact on the Catalan society,” says Cosano.

“Like AC37, it is clearly very important for them to leave a positive legacy of the event economically and in terms of sustainability, so it is great to have them onboard working with us towards such a positive ambition for the 37th America’s Cup and Barcelona,” says Dalton.

Grant Dalton and Francesc Cosano

In March, MIN reported that a new scientific study had found that there are now 171 trillion pieces of plastic estimated to be floating in the world’s oceans. The data suggests this is an increase from an estimated concentration of 16 trillion pieces in 2005. Results from the initial legs of the 2023 edition of The Ocean Race showed microplastics in each one of 40 samples analysed, with as many as 1,884 microplastics per cubic metre (pm3) of water in some locations.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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